Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, will end his bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, reports indicate. News of Buttigieg’s surprising departure broke Sunday night, less than two days before voters head to the polls on Super Tuesday.
According to Politico reporter Carla Marinucci, Buttigieg’s staff learned of the development during an evening campaign call. The candidate’s decision comes only one day after he finished fourth in the South Carolina primary, earning only 8.2 percent of the vote, even less than long-shot billionaire Tom Steyer.
New! BREAKING @PeteButtigieg to announce he is out of the presidential race, his staff now hearing the news in campaign call, sources tell us.
— Carla Marinucci (@cmarinucci) March 1, 2020
RealClearPolitics’s polling average shows Buttigieg in fourth place nationally at the time of his departure, with 11 percent support, just behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s 11.8 percent, but nowhere near Sen. Bernie Sanders’s 29.6 percent or former Vice President Joe Biden’s 18.8.
According to RCP’s averages, Buttigieg was not running competitive races in delegate-rich Super Tuesday states like California and Texas, where he’s polling in fifth place.
Hoping to be the first openly gay president, Buttigieg had a good February, edging out Sanders in the Iowa delegate count, and only barely losing to the Vermont Independent in New Hampshire. He left Nevada, however, with only three delegates, while Sanders earned 24 and Biden nabbed nine. He leaves the race with 26 total delegates.
A 38-year-old Harvard graduate, Rhodes Scholar, military veteran, and McKinsey consultant, the “small-town mayor” attracted attention from Democrats and the media as a fresh face for a party struggling to connect in Rust Belt states like his own. Despite several strong debate performances, Buttigieg failed to prove he could connect with the party’s robust base of minority voters, a challenge that ultimately proved to be insurmountable for his candidacy.
The decision by Buttigieg, a far-left progressive who sought to frame himself as a moderate, may bring hope to Democrats desperately seeking to prevent Sanders from running away with the nomination on Super Tuesday. Whether their hope is misplaced is another question.